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With so many different demand side platforms, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want something that enables advertisers and agencies to purchase ad impressions across a range of publisher sites, targeting specific user demographics through programmatic bidding—but now need to figure out which tool is best. I've got you! In this post, I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different demand side tools, with my picks of the best demand side platforms overall.

What Is a Demand Side Platform?

A Demand Side Platform (DSP) is a digital tool that allows advertisers and agencies to automate the purchasing of online advertising. It provides a centralized platform to access multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts, enabling users to buy advertising space efficiently.

The purpose is to facilitate the targeting of specific audiences using real-time bidding, optimizing ad spend based on performance metrics. They streamline the ad buying process, offering tools for campaign management, data analysis, and budget allocation.

Overviews Of The 10 Best Demand Side Platforms

Below you’ll find a summary of the best demand side platforms available, focusing on each’s unique features, their pros and cons, and screenshots to help you decide which is a better fit for your advertising needs.

1

StackAdapt

Best for campaign planning

This is an aggregated rating for this tool including ratings from Crozdesk users and ratings from other sites.
4.8
398 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

StackAdapt uses machine learning processes to help brands plan ad buying campaigns to grow their business using multiple channels.

Why I picked StackAdapt: I chose to add StackAdapt to this list because of its ability to help your ecommerce business plan ad campaigns. It provides a creative studio that will help you test your campaigns before launching and get access to data-driven campaigns’ potential. StackAdapt’s ad previewer feature allows you to evaluate the performance of your marketing campaigns beforehand.

StackAdapt Standout Features and Integrations

Features include cross-channel ad formats to launch video, native, desktop, tablet, and mobile campaigns. StackAdapt provides campaign effectiveness measurement tools that use artificial intelligence-powered reports that you can schedule to deliver precise performance reports.

Integrations include connections with third-party systems that will help you add or expand advertising capabilities through popular platforms. These include AgencyAnalytics, Airbyte, Databox, HubSpot, Improvado, Measured, NinjaCat, Salesforce, Tray.io, Windsor.ai, and other software options.

Pros

  • World-class support.
  • Flexibility to execute various strategies.
  • Easy to use and understand.

Cons

  • Reporting navigation can be complex.
  • Creative management tool is clunky.
2

DemandBase

Best for go-to-market strategies

This is an aggregated rating for this tool including ratings from Crozdesk users and ratings from other sites.
4.3
1556 reviews

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Demandbase helps B2B ecommerce brands find go-to-market opportunities earlier and create more intelligent marketing campaigns.

Why I picked Demandbase: If your business focuses on B2B sales, I added Demandbase to this list to help you develop go-to-market strategies to help you plan campaigns to engage with potential customers and convince them to buy your products. Demandbase helps you focus on account-based campaigns and build a unified account data foundation. You can use the platform to connect your first-party data with Demandbase’s third-party data and artificial intelligence to increase your pipeline and revenue.

Demandbase Standout Features and Integrations

Features include in-depth insights to help you identify where your teams need to close more sales by contacting decision-makers who are ready to buy. Demandbase also provides automation capabilities that handle your tedious account-based marketing tasks to help you save time and develop a more robust pipeline.

Integrations include connections with some of the top systems ecommerce businesses use to manage their operations. You can integrate Demandbase with applications such as Adobe Analytics, Domo, Google Analytics, HubSpot, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Optimizely, Salesforce, Slack, Workato, and other software options.

Pros

  • Monitors how long prospects look at content.
  • Provides in-market account intelligence.
  • Clean user interface.

Cons

  • Reporting can be more intuitive.
  • Experiences glitches from time to time.
3

Criteo

Best for ad retargeting

This is an aggregated rating for this tool including ratings from Crozdesk users and ratings from other sites.
3.8
239 reviews

Free demo available

From $1/click.

Criteo helps brands reach target audiences and increase impressions by providing dynamic retargeting capabilities.

Why I picked Criteo: The platform is among some of the top demand side platforms because of its dynamic retargeting features. Criteo’s AI Engine can monitor your customers’ engagement and uses its retargeting capabilities to power product recommendations in your advertisements. Criteo provides access to some of the best ad inventory on the market with thousands of top publishers that allow you to get better placements for your retargeting campaigns.

Criteo Standout Features and Integrations

Features include contextual advertising tools that leverage commerce and contextual data to enhance your campaigns. Criteo also offers retail media features that can reach and convert shoppers via relevant ads near your digital retailer and marketplace websites’ digital point of sale.

Integrations include connections with select third-party platforms that Criteo puts through an extensive review process to ensure best-in-class service to enhance your processes. These include Adjust, Blueshift, Census, Flowbox, Klaviyo, Leadsbridge, MightySignal, mParticle, Oracle Data Cloud, Shopify Plus, and other software options.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Simple navigation.
  • Clear performance reports.

Cons

  • Inconsistent performance.
  • Support needs work.
4

Taboola

Best for native advertising

This is an aggregated rating for this tool including ratings from Crozdesk users and ratings from other sites.
3.3
34 reviews

Free demo available

From $10/day.

Taboola provides native advertising capabilities that allow ecommerce businesses to build brand awareness by connecting with the right audience throughout all web platforms.

Why I picked Taboola: Through native advertisement tools from Taboola, you can publish content on some of the top websites across the internet. You can use Taboola to effectively target B2C or B2B audiences and operate separate campaigns if you target both of these audiences. The platform also offers comprehensive reporting tools that help you monitor real-time content performance across your web channels.

Taboola Standout Features and Integrations

Features include advanced predictive engines that process inputs from various sources to ensure your content matches the readers’ needs, meaning your ads will only reach target audiences. Taboola also allows audiences to rate and share your content on various social media platforms, allowing you to reach even more people.

Integrations include over 50 popular systems that help ecommerce businesses enhance workflows and automate processes. These connections include applications such as Brax, Desktop.com, Hevo, HubSpot CRM, Improvado, Retargetly, Sitejet, TapClicks, wecantrack, WordPress, and other software options.

Pros

  • Precise KPIs.
  • Simple campaign setup.
  • Excellent customer support.

Cons

  • User interface is bulky.
  • Approval system needs work.
5

Xandr

Best for reaching smart TV households

Pricing upon request

Xandr is one of the leading demand side platforms that provide programmatic advertising to help brands reach households with smart TVs.

Why I picked Xandr: The platform provides your brand with high-quality traffic by helping you advertise your ecommerce business to smart TV households. Xandr allows you to achieve your greatest advertising outcomes by providing access to exclusive inventory, powerful statistics, precise targeting, and data management. Xandr also gathers top-class, first-party data to help you can target any of the over 2,500 audience segments.

Xandr Standout Features and Integrations

Features include real-time campaign attribution that uses a robust reporting system that provides digestible and visualized statistic bites to give you a highlight of advertising performance. The platform also offers a significant number of cross-channel ad formats, such as mobile display, in-app ads, programmatic audio, and more, that are clearly rendered in necessary environments and can be delivered in all suitable resolutions.

Integrations include third-party systems that will help automate many advertising processes and allow you to create simple workflows. These connections include applications such as Adplorer, Advendio, Bidetellect, Humming, Meetrics, PubPower, Qloo, Retargetly, The Moneytizer, Yieldlab, and other software options.

Pros

  • Simple user interface.
  • Easy to use.
  • Many targeting options are available.

Cons

  • Needs more fraud detection capabilities.
  • Long creative approvals.
6

Adform

Best for healthy traffic

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Adform helps brands get the best possible return from their advertising by providing top-quality, healthy traffic from various environments.

Why I picked Adform: As many people know, healthy traffic is the best kind, so I wanted to add Adform to this list for this reason alone. Adform generates 100% healthy, viewable traffic that is bot-free and eliminates other ad fraud threats. When using Adform, you will get the best traffic from top countries such as the US, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, and other beneficial traffic regions.

Adform Standout Features and Integrations

Features include a broad advertising reach thanks to the tool’s integration with some of the largest traffic partners, ensuring you reach the best audiences globally. Adform allows you to generate reports in real-time and on-demand after choosing relevant performance criteria to make a report.

Integrations include connections with various systems to enhance productivity, such as Browsi, Channable, Data Virtuality, Lyftrondata, Onlymega, Publitas, ROIVENUE, Salesforce, Tray.io, Zuuvi, and other software options. Adform also has an API you can use to create custom integrations with your current applications.

Pros

  • Excellent custom reporting capabilities.
  • Friendly user interface.
  • Regular updates.

Cons

  • Lacks optimization for smaller screens.
  • Needs more tracking visualizations.
7

Google Marketing Platform Enterprise

Best for in-depth analytics

From $12,500/month.

Google Marketing Platform Enterprise provides large ecommerce businesses with a unified advertising and analytics platform that allows them to develop smarter marketing campaigns and get better results.

Why I picked Google Marketing Platform Enterprise: You might already be using some of Google’s products within your ecommerce brand, so I put Google Marketing Platform Enterprise in this article for you to consider one more Google tool for your operations. When using the platform, you can use the built-in intelligence tool to automatically discover your best marketing insights, so you can achieve your goals as fast as possible. Google Marketing Platform Enterprise easily allows you to get an overview of your campaigns and find out what’s working so you can make the best data-driven decisions to improve performance and deliver quality experiences.

Google Marketing Platform Enterprise Standout Features and Integrations

Features include the Display and Video 360 tool that allows you to manage everything in your campaigns, from planning and creative development to campaign measurement and enhancement. The platform also provides the Search Ads 360 tool to help you optimize search engine marketing campaigns.

Integrations include connections with third-party systems that will allow you to pass critical data between applications to enhance campaigns. These integrations include tools such as Adjust, BlueShift, CallRail, CallTrackingMetrics, Google Analytics 360, Invoca, LoginRadius, mParticle, NinjaCat, Salesforce, and other software options.

Pros

  • One-stop shop for digital marketing.
  • Simple ad management interface.
  • Allows simple access to marketing tools.

Cons

  • Steep learning curve.
  • Very expensive.
8

Emerse

Best for ad optimization

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Emerse provides machine learning and A/B testing capabilities to help ecommerce brands optimize their advertising campaigns when using their demand side platform.

Why I picked Emerse: Not only is it important to have high-performing campaigns, but understanding when to enhance and optimize your campaigns is also essential - which is where Emerse comes in. I added Emerse to the article because of its ability to optimize your ad content and help you focus on the best-performing creatives. Emerse can help you build the best ad creatives dynamically and use its reinforcement machine learning algorithm to automatically deliver your budget towards the best ad combo.

Emerse Standout Features and Integrations

Features include flexible tools that allow you to start and monitor advertising campaigns whenever you like through Emerse’s self-service platform. Emerse allows you to build your own dataset, or you can use the platform’s library of third-party sources to enhance your future campaigns.

Integrations include a small number of software connections that can help you increase your business operations and productivity. These connections are Aikido Security, EcommerceBlocks, and MessageMedia.

Pros

  • Dynamic A/B testing.
  • Provides detailed ad statistics.
  • Simple reporting tools.

Cons

  • Lack of integrations.
  • Needs more customization capabilities.
9

Moloco

Best for performance-based advertising

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Moloco uses brands’ first-party data to power performance-based advertising solutions that will help them acquire and re-engage high-value customers.

Why I picked Moloco: The platform uses performance-based advertising tools to help your brand get in front of the right audiences at the right time and attract potential customers most likely to convert. Moloco’s machine learning models will automate your entire campaign process, including budgeting, bidding, targeting, and developing creatives, allowing you to focus on business growth. You can use Moloco to maximize your performance-based campaigns at any budget to help you scale by leveraging the platform’s extensive infrastructure.

Moloco Standout Features and Integrations

Features include real-time insights and reporting to help you get an in-depth understanding of campaigns’ performance and enhance future marketing. Moloco also helps you monitor creative performance through A/B testing, production, and other beneficial capabilities.

Integrations include connections with various reporting tools, such as Adjust, App Annie, AppsFlyer, Appsumer, Bidalgo, Kochava, Singular, and Tenjin. Moloco also provides an API to help you create custom third-party integrations.

Pros

  • Transparent onboarding process.
  • Proactive support.
  • Regular feature updates.

Cons

  • Needs more detailed targeting options.
  • User interface can be more customizable.
10

Adobe Advertising Cloud

Best for TV advertisements

Free demo available

Pricing upon request

Adobe Advertising Cloud helps brands create all types of TV advertising campaigns across many devices to enable them to reach a wider audience.

Why I picked Adobe Advertising Cloud: I believe what makes Adobe Advertising Cloud an excellent choice for this article is its ability to provide your brand with access to more than 50 TV broadcasters. It focuses on TV advertising and other beneficial ad formats, inventory management, and people-based marketing that will increase your return on investment. Adobe Advertising Cloud also allows you to easily manage and track advertising campaigns in a single area.

Adobe Advertising Cloud Standout Features and Integrations

Features include artificial intelligence optimization that provides spend forecasts and real-time campaign optimization opportunities. Adobe Advertising Cloud also has content creation tools that will help you connect creative and marketing teams and allow them to create a significant number of ads at scale.

Integrations include connections with some of the best systems that will allow you to add features and automate advertising tasks. These include Adobe Analytics, BlueShift, Branch.io, Improvado, Invoca, NinjaCat, Tealium, Uptempto, Zendesk, and other software options.

Pros

  • Reliable work environment.
  • Provides real-time data.
  • Manageable interface.

Cons

  • Difficult to use.
  • Uploading large files is slow.
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Other Options

The above list is fairly robust, and I believe that you’ll find some worthwhile demand side platform options. However, I decided to add some other options below for your consideration.

  1. The Trade Desk

    Best number of advertising channels

  2. Amazon DSP

    Best for advertising on Amazon

  3. AdButler

    Best self-serve advertising marketplace.

  4. Brandzooka

    Best self-service TV and digital ad buying platform.

  5. MediaMath

    Best omnichannel demand side platform.

  6. Connexity

    Best for understanding ecommerce customers.

  7. Genius Monkey

    Best fully managed demand side platform.

  8. Readpeak

    Best for content-driven advertising.

  9. Platform.io

    Best white label DSP.

Selection Criteria for Demand Side Platforms

Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best demand side platforms for this article.

Core Functionality

These are the core functions any demand side platform must cover in order to be considered for placement on this list. 

  • Ability to bid in real-time to purchase ad impressions, allowing for efficient and instantaneous ad placement
  • Ability to select and reach a specific group of individuals with relevant advertising messages based on their demographics, interests, behaviors, or other defining characteristics

Key Features

DSPs provide a variety of features and capabilities to advertisers, including:

  1. Audience Targeting: Advertisers can define their target audience based on various data points, including demographic information, browsing behavior, interests, and more.
  2. Real-Time Bidding: DSPs participate in ad exchanges where publishers make their ad inventory available for auction. The DSP algorithmically bids on ad impressions in real time, ensuring advertisers reach their target audience at the right time and price.
  3. Inventory Management: DSPs provide tools to manage and optimize ad campaigns across multiple publishers and channels. Advertisers can control their ad placements, set budgets, and monitor campaign performance.
  4. Data Management: DSPs often include data management capabilities to collect, organize, and analyze data from various sources. This data can be used to refine targeting strategies and optimize campaign performance.
  5. Reporting and Analytics: DSPs offer reporting and analytics features to provide insights into campaign performance, including impressions, clicks, conversions, and return on investment (ROI).
  6. Cross-Device Support: Consumers typically use multiple devices at various times throughout their day, making reaching them across all their devices with relevant ads that are tailored for each device essential.

By using a DSP, advertisers can streamline their ad buying process, reach their target audience more effectively, and optimize their campaigns based on real-time data and insights.

Usability

A significant factor of any DSP is its usability, but more specifically, the usability of the inventory it offers. Lacking access to the digital advertising inventory you need, including the amount and type of ads available, wouldn’t be helpful. So, I researched the best DSPs that are easy to use and provide simple access to the inventory that fits your needs.

Software Integrations

DSPs typically integrate with various ad exchanges and supply side platforms for advertising space. However, I wanted to add DSPs to this article that also integrates with other tools to increase their functionality and enhance your processes. These tools should integrate with systems such as data management and analytics platforms, payment gateways, and brand safety solutions that enhance your DSP’s risk management capabilities.

Customization

The key to running successful ad campaigns is a DSP with efficient and customizable tools and technology. I wanted to make sure that many of the tools in this article offer various targeting options that best fit your needs. They should also allow you to customize which ad format you’re using, such as display, mobile, programmatic audio, video, in-app, and many other choices.

People Also Ask

When searching for new demand side platforms, many people will have additional questions about these systems. Here are some of the most common questions people ask when examining new DSPs and detailed answers to help you.

What are the benefits of using a demand side platform?

There are many benefits you can experience when using demand side platforms, including:

  • Efficient Ad Buying Workflows: DSPs can simplify your ad buying workflows by providing a place where you can quickly click a few buttons, and your media turns on.
  • Lower Costs: DSPs can eliminate the traditional ad-buying process that can take a significant amount of time to complete, saving you time and money.
  • Expanded Access: You can get access to a significant number of ad exchanges through a DSP through a single interface.
  • Sophisticated Targeting: Traditionally, many ad networks will restrict some advertisers through their audience targeting features that limit the potential audience segments and advertisers’ reach, but DSPs provide you with the freedom to create your own ad targeting criteria.

What is demand side platform vs sell side platform?

Demand side platforms provide you with all the information required to buy advertising from various publishers. DSPs don’t own or buy media from publishers; instead, they communicate with a sell side platform through an ad exchange. Sell side platforms (SSP) are tools where publishers list their inventory on ad exchanges and communicate with DSPs regarding impression details. Together they optimize the digital advertising economy and simplify the ad bidding and ad inventory management processes.

How much do demand side platforms cost?

The final cost of demand side platforms varies depending on the features and services it provides. Typically, DSPs charge a percentage of your media spend or a flat service fee. Costs can also depend on the complexity of your campaigns, their frequency, and other critical factors.

You’ll see prices from $1/click, $10/day, 17% of ad spend, $12,500/month, minimum $50,000 ad spend. So as you can see, unlike other software services, the pricing rubrics aren’t standardized in any way that allows you to meaningfully develop a range from high cost to low cost. Instead, it will mostly depend on how many ads you need and how many clicks or conversions you receive.

Other Ecommerce Support Software Reviews

Here are other tool reviews for ecommerce support software that you can use alongside your new demand side platform.

The Takeaway

Although I listed some very good choices here in this article, there are many more demand side platforms to consider. Every tool has its own benefits, and the best fit for you will depend on your goals and requirements. However, my list is a good place for you to start understanding the ins and outs of how DSPs operate and help you avoid disappointments and errors in the future.

If you’re in the decision process for ecommerce software to handle multiple functions in your online store, or you need more advice to enhance your operations, sign up for The Ecomm Manager Newsletter. As a subscriber, you’ll receive the information and advice you need to save your budget and increase operational productivity.

Related Read: An Expert’s Guide To Ecommerce PPC Management

By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is The Ecomm Manager's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School. He also hosts The Ecomm Manager Podcast, discussing ecommerce best practices, customer experience, branding, inventory management, shipping and delivery, and analytics with expert guests.